Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Burnout in emergency department healthcare professionals is associated with coping style: a cross-sectional survey
  1. M Howlett1,2,3,
  2. K Doody4,
  3. J Murray5,
  4. D LeBlanc-Duchin5,
  5. J Fraser1,
  6. PR Atkinson1,2,3
  1. 1Department of Emergency Medicine, Saint John Regional Hospital, Saint John, Canada
  2. 2Department of Emergency Medicine, Dalhousie University, Saint John Campus, Canada
  3. 3Discipline of Emergency Medicine, Memorial University, Saint John, Canada
  4. 4Department of Psychology, Saint John Regional Hospital, Saint John, Canada
  5. 5Research Services, Horizon Health Network, Moncton, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr M Howlett, Research Services, Horizon Health Network Saint John Regional Hospital, 400 University Ave, Saint John, NB, Canada E2L 4L2; Michael.howlett{at}


Introduction Ineffective coping may lead to impaired job performance and burnout, with adverse consequences to staff well-being and patient outcomes. We examined the relationship between coping styles and burnout in emergency physicians, nurses and support staff at seven small, medium and large emergency departments (ED) in a Canadian health region (population 500 000).

Methods Linear regression with the Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations (CISS) and Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) was used to evaluate the effect of coping style on levels of burnout in a cross-sectional survey of 616 ED staff members. CISS measures coping style in three categories: task-oriented, emotion-oriented and avoidance-oriented coping; MBI, in use for 30 years, assesses the level of burnout in healthcare workers.

Results Task-oriented coping was associated with decreased risk of burnout, while emotion-oriented coping was associated with increased risk of burnout.

Discussion Specific coping styles are associated with varied risk of burnout in ED staff across several different types of hospitals in a regional network. Coping style intervention may reduce burnout, while leading to improvement in staff well-being and patient outcomes. Further studies should focus on building and sustaining task-oriented coping, along with alternatives to emotion-oriented coping.

  • emergency department
  • psychology, staff support
  • research, operational

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Linked Articles

  • Primary survey
    Steve Goodacre